Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pelosi Lets Rangel Continue Overseeing Cesspool of Scandal

Once again, Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shows that nothing will get between her agenda, not even the tax cheat Charles Rangel. She will take no action to depose him from his post as the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, even though he's engaged in egregious tax dodging - failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of investments, real estate transactions, and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of House ethics violations or the rent stabilization laws he broke in New York.

No, Pelosi is keeping Rangel on as lifeguard of the cesspool of scandal. You see, he's a reliable vote and she knows that he'll see the agenda through, regardless of the dings he's taking from his failure to adhere to the very laws that his committee has written over the years.

She's got her flacks out claiming that they wont take action until the House Ethics Committee reports, but this is the same person who did nothing against fellow Democrat William Jefferson when he was found with $90,000 in bribes stuck in his freezer. She wants people to think that she'll take action if and when the committee reports or a prosecutor brings charges.

Given that the ethics committee isn't likely to bring charges anytime soon, and they're still busy considering only the tip of the iceberg - the rent stabilization racket Rangel ran (being one of several items), it's all too likely that he'll get a slap on the wrist for something that would have sent many others to jail.

Meanwhile, the NY Post says what I've been saying for a while - that Rangel should be fired - and at least removed from the chairmanship. The problem is that his constituents will vote him back into office. It goes back to the old adage of hating Congress but loving your representative. Rangel is beloved by his district, where he can do no wrong in their eyes. It doesn't matter how many tax dodging schemes are uncovered, the graft, corruption, or anything else he's done. They'll continue to reelect him.

Here's a scoresheet of what Rangel has done to date that violates various state and local tax laws, House ethics violations, New York State rent stabilization laws, and other sundry matters. One of the reasons that there are ranges on many of these items is that Congressional filings allow the reporting of income and various business transactions to be done in ranges:
  1. Failed to reveal more than $3 million in business income;
  2. Failed to report income from sales of real property;
  3. Failed to report income from Punta Cana hacienda;
  4. Failed to pay property taxes on Glassboro, New Jersey property for several tax quarters ($159.39 is most recent tax due for 2Q and 3Q 2009);
  5. Failed to report $430,000 in stock transactions;
  6. Had to dramatically revise House filings to show hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions - unreported assets that concealed anywhere from $38,000 to $116,000 in income for 2007 alone;
  7. Failed to report a checking account that was worth between $250,000 and $500,000.
  8. Failed to report income to the IRS; paid $10,000 in back taxes but no penalties or interest was apparently assessed (Rep. John Carter (R-TX) introduced the Rangel rule to codify the IRS treatment of Rangel, but it was defeated by House Democrats);
  9. Pay to play with AIG and CCNY over the financing of the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service;
  10. Broke House rules on reporting trips;
  11. Broke New York State Rent Stabilization laws by owning four units and using one as an office (anyone else in that situation would have been booted from the properties);
  12. Alternatively broke New York State Rent Stabilization laws or lied on mortgage application documents claiming primary residence status for either the rent stabilized apartments in Harlem, or other properties - the outcome of which is that he received better mortgage terms, or enabled himself to unjustly enrich himself over the span of decades by obtaining a rent stabilized apartment at a time when there's a regular shortage of affordable housing in Manhattan;
  13. Fails to meet New York State Rent Stabilization income guidelines with new revelations that he's making more than $175,000 - and quite likely much more than that based on hidden income over the years (rent stabilization means that he's saving nearly $4,000 a month over market rates for same property - a perk that means he's saving $48,000 a year or more than the gross income of many of his constituents);
  14. Paid lawyers hired to unravel Rangel's tax situation $121,000 from his campaign committee funds, which violate federal election laws (Rangel claims that he got a waiver from FEC; FEC says otherwise);
  15. Unjustly received a homestead property tax deduction on a D.C. property (again claiming primary residence status);
  16. Gave contract to his son's company worth nearly $80,000 for building websites that were non-functional and whose value experts believe cost no more than $100; and
  17. Failed to report imputed income from long term use of House parking lot to store vehicles, which was also a violation of House ethics guidelines.

His constituents will continue voting for him, even if he misses more time than practically anyone else in Congress and that's with him being the chair of one of the most important committees in Congress. One other reason that Rangel remains untouchable? He's a top fundraiser for Democrats.

To further show the disparity in treatment between Rangel and the rest of us, a New York printing company owner was sentenced to jail and forced to pay penalties for failing to report nearly $190,000 in income.

The owner of a New York City printing business was sentenced today to one year and one day in federal prison for not reporting about $189,520 in tax returns, authorities with the Internal Revenue Service said.

David Waxtel, of Westfield, must also pay a fine of $5,000 and serve two years on supervised release after prison. Waxtel plead guilty last October before U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan on charges of tax evasion.

As president of Quantum Printing Company, Inc., Waxtel failed to report a number of payments in 2003 from customers that he deposited into the business bank accounts and then diverted to his personal checking account or his personal investment accounts. He also didn't report income from two rental properties, each with multiple rental units, that he owned in Brooklyn, New York.

It's funny, but that fact pattern is quite like that of Rangel - who failed to report income from rental properties over a period of years, and yet has skated on the penalties that the IRS can and should be imposing.

1 comment:

Eliza said...

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